This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
By F. W. ShELTON, Author of Rector of St. Bardolphs, and Salandar the Dragon. With Illustrations from Original Designs. New York: Charles Scribner, 1853.
"Man made the City - God made the Country," is an old saying of more truth than we sometimes find in "common sayings;" and yet man has some hand in giving character to the country - he may deform or beautify it. There is beauty in the uncultivated prairie, where the foot of the white man has never trod; the mighty forest, not yet desecrated by the woodman's axe, is beautiful in its majesty. But these are beauties to be enjoyed only for a short season. The most enthusiastic lover of nature would soon grow tired of such delights. The beauty of the prairie and the lonely majesty of the forest will tempt but few to forsake the pleasures of civilized life. The character of the country, then, as a home for man, depends on man himself.
In all parts of our country there is a new and constantly increasing disposition to shun the city and seek the enjoyments of country life. The question arises, what has given our people such a love of rural life? Perhaps our own and other horticultural and the agricultural journals have done as much as any one cause to produce this result. Then the better cultivation of the soil, better and more tasty buildings, improved stock and beautiful gardens and orchards, have increased the attractiveness of the country, and thrown a charm around country life. The log cabin, surrounded with stumps, was bearable; it showed necessity, and adaptation, and gave an earnest of better things in the future. But when this was suffered to go to partial decay, or substituted by an unsightly board house, surrounded with half decayed stumps and tumble-down rail fences, it was a picture by no means attractive to the man of taste.
With this love of Rural Life has sprung up a Rural Literature. We have had Willis' Rural Letters, Up Country Letters, and now Up the River, with many others of a somewhat similar character. We wish these authors knew more of horticulture - that they were familiar with fruits and flowers, and plants and trees - then their writings would be more interesting and profitable. Had the author of this work known more of the beautiful collections of fruits and flowers to be found "up the river," he would not have devoted twenty-five pages to a pair of Shanghae fowls. It is, however, a very interesting book, and many of its descriptions are exceedingly fine. We marked a few passages, but can only find room for a single extract.
"What more refreshing and delightful, especially in early spring, when sated and disgusted with grease and animal diet, than a tumbler full of short-top, scarlet radishes, placed upon your tea-table, to be accompanied with sponge-like bread and grass butter ? How fresh, crisp, crackling, sparking, they are, as you take them out of water! How you love to snap them in two like brittle glass, dip the ends in a little salt, and crack them to pieces in your feverish mouth! Such indulgence is a harmless epicurism, which the present state of sumptuary laws does not forbid. I do hope that Radishes may be spared, although I foresee that the days of salad are numbered, because lettuce contains opium, as is well known".